What are the 2019 flu vaccines?

It is important to get the influenza vaccine annually as the virus changes each year, says the Department of Health.

The strains and types of seasonal influenza vaccinations for this year have been announced

This year there is a new A strain (H3N2) and a new strain for the B Victoria linage, the Federal Health Department has announced.

The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the Australian 2019 season will contain the following four virus strains:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017(H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 – like virus**
  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 – like virus
    ** not included in Fluzone High Dose® or Fluad® for people aged 65 years and over

The Department of Health says the benefit to those aged 65 years and over being vaccinated with the higher immunogenicity influenza vaccine (Fluad® or Fluzone® High-Dose) is likely to offset any loss of protection against the additional strain in the quadrivalent vaccine.

There will be five free vaccines available in 2019 through the National Immunisation Program (NIP), with more than six million doses secured of the following:

Those eligible for a free flu shot under the National Immunisation Program include people 65 years and over, pregnant women, those who suffer chronic conditions as well as – for the first time – all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from six months of age.

Government-funded influenza vaccines will start to become available from mid-April 2019.

As influenza usually occurs from June, with the peak around August, vaccinating from mid-April 2019 will allow people to develop immunity before influenza transmission is at its peak, says Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

“Influenza seasons and severity are unpredictable. However, what we do know is that vaccination is the most important measure we have to prevent influenza and its complications,” says Professor Murphy.

“The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely that the flu will spread in the community. Influenza is a major cause of illness in the Australian community, and in some cases can result in death.”

Immunisation providers can order vaccines online now.

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  1. Dr Phil 42

    My 92 year old mother was told by her big GP practice they didn’t have any flu jabs at the moment – and all those news articles made her worry. So she went to the pharmacy and they sold her a quadruvalent vaccine. She is 92! So not only didn’t the pharmacist tell her tell her to get the older person vaccine, nor did he offer to supply one, he sold her what he had at hand! The pharmacist when contacted denies this and he insists he told her, even though my brother (not a doctor) was with her at the time.

    I was in favour of pharmacies selling the flu vaccine because they are supposed to give measured advice and use their judgement if it is appropriate. It was clearly not appropriate. Help us all when pharmacists can start prescribing even wider, like the Queensland experiment for pharmacy prescribing of antibiotics for urinary tract infections. What was that about an antibiotic resistance crisis? At least the GP isn’t looking at making a profit if they prescribe or don’t prescribe.

    • Dr D Khan

      Hi Dr Phil 42,

      Please note that although the trivalent vaccine may be ‘recommended’ for people aged over 65, it does not necessarily mean that the quadrivalent vaccine can not be given to people in this age group! As you mentioned yourself, if a big GP practice does not have the trivalent vaccines available for her, it is highly unlikely that her local pharmacy would be able to get their hands on it.

      At this point, it is more important for her to actually have a flu vaccine so she can be protected rather than wait for who knows how long before the GP practice can get more stock, especially as we are heading into June which is peak flu season. Hopefully you’ll be pleased to know that the quadrivalent covers the same 3 strains in the trivalent vaccine as well. I’m more surprised that the practice did not offer her the quadrivalent vaccine, considering her age of 92 so she can be protected sooner.

      Yale Health in the States has noted that “Public Health experts have not recommended one type of flu vaccine more highly than another for people 65 and older. They advise getting any type of flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu.” ( https://yalehealth.yale.edu/standard-vaccine-quadrivalent-vs-high-dose-vaccine-trivalent ).

      You can also find a table from the NSW Gov https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/flu.aspx that outlines all the available quadrivalnt vaccines available, and you can see that all quadrivalent vaccines, excluding FluQuadri Junior (for obvious reasons) are all registered for use in 65 years and older along side with the trivalent vaccines.

      Although it may not sound like what you’d want to hear but what the pharmacist did was actually highly appropriate! I think he or she actually deserves a thank you, because this should of been something the practice should of made her aware, rather than just turning her away because they ‘didn’t have any flu jabs’.

  2. amicus curiae

    so what ARE the strains doing the rounds in Aus then? as the media and other sectors are carefully avoiding stating what!.but they have sort of admitted the vaccines arent working as well as theyd hoped…hmm?
    ive already had it and was one of the early ones in march, and its savage, pnuemonia followed

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